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Unity in Diversity

Consider the flowers of a garden. Though differing in kind, color, form and shape, yet, inasmuch as they are refreshed by the waters of one spring, revived by the breath of one wind, invigorated by the rays of one sun, this diversity increaseth their charm and addeth unto their beauty..." -Abdu’l-Baha.

By closely examining the world of creation, one must, of a certainty, come to appreciate that a fundamental principle with which it operates is one of unity in diversity. Taking the example of the composition of the human body whose diverse members work in perfect unity in order for the entire system to be sustained, the social realty mankind can only realize its fullest potential if its diversity is appreciated and harmony is sought among the various talents, abilities, opinions, temperaments, perspectives and styles of each individual, community and institution. Unity and diversity are inseparable realities. On the one hand, without unity, diversity becomes impotent and chaotic and on the other, diversity is a fundamental requirement for the establishment of unity for otherwise, what we end up with is uniformity and the beauty that underlies the world of creation is lost. For what beauty is there in a single repetitive musical note? Is it not the blending of myriads of progressions of sound, the diversity of tones and qualities that produces a beautiful symphony? Hence, there is the need for us to answer the central question on whether we can create environments of unity in which the diverse talents and capabilities of others can flourish.

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Culture

"The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established. This unity can never be achieved so long as the counsels which the Pen of the Most High hath revealed are suffered to pass unheeded"-Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh

Uganda is a country endowed with a rich diversity of culture in all its dimensions. In the words of Winston Churchill (1908) in his memoir My African Journey, “For magnificence, for variety of form and color, for profusion of brilliant life — bird, insect, reptile, beast — for vast scale — Uganda is truly “the Pearl of Africa....The Kingdom of Uganda is a fairy tale. The scenery is different, the climate is different and most of all, the people are different from anything elsewhere to be seen in the whole range of Africa….what message I bring back….concentrate on Uganda.” Indeed, Uganda has some of the best that nature has to offer in terms of beautiful scenery, diverse plant and animal species and a wonderful climate. The people have a rich historical culture of hospitality and a profound appreciation for artistic endeavors as portrayed in its various dances, cultural clothing and beautiful crafts from all regions. This rich cultural heritage is a foundation upon which people of diverse backgrounds can unite under one common purpose: to carry forward an ever-advancing material and spiritual civilization. Cultural diversity in Uganda can be likened to the different flowers of a garden: though differing in kind, color, form and shape, which are refreshed by the waters of one spring, revived by the breath of one wind, energized by the rays of one sun, this diversity increases their charm, and adds to their beauty. From the Bahá'í view, diversity of hues, form and shape enrich and adorn the garden and heightens its effect. In like manner, when diverse shades of thought, temperament and character are brought together under the power and influence of one central agency, the beauty and glory of human perfection will be revealed and made manifest. "Naught but the celestial potency of the word of God, which ruleth and transcendeth the realities of all things, is capable of harmonizing the divergent thoughts, sentiments, ideas and convictions of the children of men." In upholding cultural diversity, Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, enjoins upon his followers to associate with all people of diverse beliefs, customs and apply the principle of the oneness of humanity within their own community. To this end, the Uganda Bahá'í Community appreciates and consorts with all the diverse cultures in the country without discrimination to any. The Bahá'í Faith abhors any trace of prejudice or hatred. The Bahá'í administrative structure provides a model of people of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds who unite together to form a dynamic social unit in which there is provision for the expression of cultural diversity. The Bahá'í Faith in Uganda has expanded into a growing number of friends from diverse backgrounds; seeking complementarity and seeing past their differences; who are meeting constantly to consult, study, reflect and act on how they can contribute to the betterment of society in light of religious guidance. Pivotal to all this is the vital contribution that the youth can make in this regard. They not only have the time and desire for meaningful contributions, they are also endowed with the necessary spiritual, mental and physical strength which when, channeled into the community’s developmental endeavors, can enable these young souls to realize their full potential, and promote the development of their communities. The task that immediately confronts the Bahá'ís of Uganda is to redefine a culture whose components best reflect the maturity of the entire human race. Therefore, rich insights are drawn from the positive elements of the culture from which individuals come and harmony is sought among them in light of divine guidance. Our current culture is re-examined and effort is made to foster new patterns of thought and habits that will eventually culminate in the maturity of humanity and usher in an age of peace and unity.

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Promoting Arts and Talent

“All art is a gift of the Holy Spirit. When it shines through the mind of a musician, it manifests itself in beautiful harmonies. Again, shining through the mind of a poet, it is seen in fine poetry and poetic prose..."- Abdu’l-Baha

The various lines of action that the Baha’is undertake are all centered around the understanding that each and every individual possesses talents and faculties which are meant to be realized, developed and utilized through an educational system that imparts the necessary knowledge needed to nurture talents and motivate individuals to undertake systematic service oriented action in line with our God given potential. At the grassroots of Uganda, a conscious effort is made by all the protagonists of change to promote the development of skills and talents in a bid to strengthen individuals, institutions and communities who then promote the wellbeing of society through their wholehearted engagement in the diverse arenas that a path of service entails. In this light, art can be viewed as an ideal theater within which individuals come together to express their diverse gifts, establish a harmony that unites them and eventually bring the best out of each other by enhancing one another’s capacity to carry forward their God given obligations.The Baha’is of Uganda therefore use this indispensable opportunity to work alongside the friends in each community where they reside for the development of these capacities right from childhood through the period of youth till adulthood in an attempt to disclose the mysteries which lie hidden within the soul.

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